November 22, 2013 § Leave a comment
My parents have a new home. They have decided that the blistery winters up north are just not their cup of tea anymore. I mean no one likes to be stuck inside all winter, really. They decided they would be much happier in the sunshine, playing golf, in the middle of December. And you know what, they are.
This past weekend we scooted down to Florida to see their new home. We arrived hoping for sunshine and warm temperatures, neither of which we really got, but what we did see was the beginning of a home that will be filled with family for years to come. The house is still somewhat of a blank canvas. Tables are missing in the dining room, nothing hangs on the walls, the TV sits on the floor, but I could picture it full. The house has a warm feel and when the rugs, lamps, photos and everything else fills it in, it will feel homey for sure.
The neighborhood they moved into is still being built. The construction workers begin their banging as early as 7 a.m. We met a bunch of wonderful neighbors who are sure to become great friends. We played games of pickle ball, bocce and shuffleboard. And between all the games and chatting, I had a thought. In the coming years, when our family continues to grow and little ones are born, we will be coming to this new house. I have so many wonderful memories growing up in the Vermont house. And although it’s sad to think that we have fewer and fewer reasons to go north, it is also exciting to know that we have a new home to make all sorts of different traditions and memories. This is where our kids will know their grandma and grandpa. This is where we will teach them to swim and drive them around in golf carts. And although it will be different, it will be just as wonderful.
Inspired by Love and Lemons
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
3 scallions, chopped and divided
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
3/4 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup vegetable broth
juice and zest of 1/2 lime
1 teaspoon sriracha
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 vine tomato, diced
4 oz. soba noodles*
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
6 shrimp, cleaned
salt and pepper
2 cups kale or spinach, packed
1/2 tablespoon basil leaves
1/2 tablespoon parsley leaves
In a large pan heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add most of the scallions and saute 1 minute. Add the fresh ginger, coconut milk, broth, lime zest and juice, sriracha, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer on medium-high for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer 5 more minutes.
Prepare soba noodles according to package directions.
While the broth and noodles are cooking, prepare the shrimp. In a small sauté pan heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, sauté for 1 minute, add the shrimp and cook for a couple of minutes on each side, until the shrimp is pink. Add a touch of salt and pepper before setting aside.
Add the kale (or spinach), basil and parsley to the broth and simmer for 30 seconds, just until the greens are wilted. Ladle the broth into 2 large bowls, add the soba noodles and top with the shrimp and left over scallions. Serve with a fork and spoon, mixing everything together when you begin to dig in.
*Note: My grocery store was inconveniently out of soba noodles when I needed them for this recipe so I used a fresh garlic linguine instead. This actually worked out quite nicely but my first choice would still be soba noodles if available.
November 10, 2013 § Leave a comment
My boy likes to make beer. He has taken on a new hobby and decided to join me in the kitchen. It is this new passion that has us trekking out for grains, hops and Irish moss, for tubes, filters and sieves. And spending four hours in the kitchen on Sunday afternoons, with football on in the background, boiling grains. The beer making tools have taken over our little condo. Our closets are overflowing with buckets, empty glass bottles and growlers and our fridge is stocked full with a number of homemade varieties.
I should start by saying that Ross is great in the kitchen if you tell him what to do and are very specific with your instructions. I love him for his eagerness and helpfulness, but he still has a lot to learn. His cooking instincts, while improving, are not always on par. So I am in awe when he makes his beer. His kitchen clumsiness seems to disappear and he instinctively just knows what should and shouldn’t be happening. Like an experienced chef who can adjust on the fly, he watches his brew with the same intention. I have learned so much from him already. I know what hops smell like; they can be musty and overpower the nostrils. I’ve gotten to taste tons of different grain varieties, all with their own unique flavor. I even like the taste of them after they’ve been boiled and become wet and sweet. And we have learned a few things together as well, like what happens when you don’t have enough sugar in your brew and carbonation showers liquid everywhere.
We have even gone as far as buying a little hop vine that we planted it in my parents’ garden. Who knows if it will last the winter, but the smile it brought to Ross’ face when he got to pick his first fresh hops was worth it.
I don’t have a specific recipe to share here, but there are tons of them out there. You do need a decent amount of equipment to get started, but once you have the base of tools it’s just about buying new grains and hops. Something maybe worth trying if your loved one wants to join you in the kitchen!
November 1, 2013 § Leave a comment
A few weekends ago, we were out with another couple enjoying a drink and watching the Red Sox work their way into the World Series. We got on the subject of apple picking and how they had missed their chance to go. I offered them some of my apples, since there are still dozens in my fridge, but they politely declined. The girlfriend seemed quite upset that she wouldn’t be making apple crisp, while the boys at the table proceeded to tell her she could make it just as easily with apples form the grocery store. In typical fashion, the girls’ response was anonymous, “That‘s not the point!”
Our apple picking apples have just about turned the corner. They no longer have that crisp outer skin and they’re a bit mushy too. I proceeded to tell our friends about how I planned to make applesauce with all the leftover apples. I won’t lie they kind of stared at me, if just for a second too long.
“What are you going to do with applesauce?”
“Eat it with what?”
Every since we were young I remember eating applesauce. I usually warmed it in the microwave for 30 seconds, just to get the chill off and would cuddle up on the couch with a nice big bowl. It was the perfect little afternoon snack. My mom would even put it out on the table at dinnertime as a side, which I just recently learned was “To fill you kids up.” (We might have been picky eaters.) Apparently though, this is an unusual thing to do. When I mentioned this to our friends, their response was “You eat applesauce with pork chops.” (Which I guess is a very typical American meal that all mothers’ make for their children, that until they mentioned it, I had never heard of.)
I know I would have hated pork chops with applesauce, so I couldn’t be happier that my mom passed down her tradition of making applesauce and eating it all by itself instead. She taught me how to boil the apples, when to pluck them from the water just at the right moment and to always keep the skins on, to get a beautiful pink color.
There was no real science to her recipe other than cut, boil and mash apples. Below is a recipe that works best for me today based of this same idea.
Makes 4-6 cups
(depending on the size of the apples)
15 apples (I prefer to use McIntosh)
Bring a large pot of water to a vigorous boil. Set an applesauce mill over a large bowl. (This can be done with a small sieve; however, it is much easier with an applesauce mill).
Cut each apple into quarters, removing the core and seeds, leaving the skin on. (For larger apples, cut into eight slices.) In batches, place apple slices into the boiling water, no more than can fill the surface of the pot. Boil the apples until the skins start to pull away from the core, the apples will start to crack a bit too, about 10-15 minutes. (This time does depend on the type of apples you use. You can tell the apples are ready more by look than time.)
Remove the apples from the pot, using a slotted spoon, making sure to shake off any excess water.
Place the cooked apples into the top of the applesauce mill. Place more apples into the boiling pot. While this round is boiling, press the wooden paddle against the edges of the mill. The apples should easily fall apart and you should see juices oozing down the sides of the mill into the bowl. (If using a sieve use the back of a wooden spoon to press the apples, and clean out the sieve of leftover skins a couple times between batches.) Continue this process of boiling and mashing until all the apples are used up.
You can enjoy the applesauce immediately, still warm or keep in the fridge for snacks later in the week.